How to Pick a Medical Assistant School in Elm City North Carolina
Once you have made a decision to enter the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant program in Elm City NC, it’s time to select a college that will furnish the right training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the ideal one? Many prospective students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors also. You may decide to research a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you must finish your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the colleges you are evaluating. And to help you with that process, we have provided some questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let’s briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.
The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant
The job of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Essentially their function is to make sure that the Elm City NC hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work run efficiently. Based on the type or size of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the many responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Providing general support during exams and procedures
While Elm City NC medical assistants may carry out almost any activity they are authorized to under North Carolina law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the choices available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) made available by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Education and Certification
Compared to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, many Elm City NC employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we’ll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically two choices provided for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about 1 year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs available at junior and community colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They often have a clinical element involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good choice for those who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. A number of possible Elm City NC employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Classes
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are a good option for individuals who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good solution for students who continue working full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, some online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Ancillary expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be reduced also. But remember that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be completed in regional North Carolina medical care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your training may be the right choice for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant in Elm City NC is provided.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start examining your medical assistant program alternatives, you need to decide which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus near Elm City NC or online at home. Once those choices have been made, you can begin the procedure of comparing colleges. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students confine their searches to the colleges that are nearest to home with the lowest tuitions. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you must explore when evaluating North Carolina programs. To help you with that task, following are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to make certain that the school you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged agencies for accreditation are the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). If your school is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Elm City NC employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School’s Passing Rate? Most of the accredited Elm City NC area medical assistant schools create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you need to determine which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Second, find out what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a school’s program. Of course schools with lower rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can opt to obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require approximately 2 years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, make certain that the Elm City NC area colleges you are reviewing provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? Numerous North Carolina medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with local medical care providers. They are a great way to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also help students establish relationships within the Elm City NC medical community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Provided? Landing that first job can be a challenging undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating provide job placement assistance and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a large network of contacts in the Elm City NC area to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size may be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a few classes before selecting a program in the Elm City NC area to experience what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full time, it’s essential that the school you select offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends in Elm City NC, make sure that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will still have to schedule any internships or practical training that will be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Medical Assistant College in Elm City NC
It’s imperative to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant school that will provide the right training. Regardless if you’re goal is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you need to acquire the right info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many schools offering training these days that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, make sure that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, don’t forget to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can subsequently start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Elm City NC.
Why Did You Choose to Be a Certified Medical Assistant?When prepping to interview for a medical assistant job, it's advantageous to review questions you might be asked. One of the things that hiring managers frequently ask candidates is "What drove you to pick medical assistance as a profession?". What the interviewer is hoping to learn is not merely the personal reasons you might have for being a Medical Assistant, but additionally what characteristics and skills you possess that make you good at what you do. You will likely be asked questions relating primarily to medical assisting, along with a certain number of routine interview questions, so you need to prepare a number of ideas about how you would like to address them. Because there are so many variables that go into choosing a career, you can address this primary question in a multitude of ways. When preparing an answer, attempt to include the reasons the work appeals to you in addition to the talents you have that make you an outstanding medical assistant and the perfiect choice for the job. Don't attempt to memorize an answer, but jot down a few ideas and talking points that relate to your own experiences and strengths. Reading through sample answers can help you to prepare your own concepts, and give you ideas of what to include to enthuse the interviewer.
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